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Voices of the Global Community


Kathie Simon Frank, Core Values Task Force Member 

Eleven years old and about to enter puberty – that was NACADA in 1990. There was no question that NACADA, established in 1979, was filling a critical need for academic advisors. The flourishing membership, increasing attendance at annual meetings, and strong regional associations acknowledged the importance of NACADA in academic advisors' lives. Academic advising was increasingly being recognized as essential for improving student life at institutions of higher education, large and small, urban and rural, teaching- and research-oriented alike. So, it was no surprise that those in this emerging profession – comprised of thoughtful and devoted faculty, professional staff, and others – desired to define and clarify what values drove their practice and to find ways to communicate those values broadly within the academy.

At a large gathering of advisors from multi-versities during the 1990 Anaheim annual conference, several raised the question: do we have a Code of Ethics to guide us? No one knew of one. Some asked, shouldn't we have one? From that initial discussion, a small group began to consider ways that the larger NACADA membership might begin to address the question.

The next year, four individuals from three institutions offered a session to begin an organization-wide debate. They proposed the need for a Code of Ethics and suggested several types of conduct that might be covered. Approximately forty people attended that session, supported the notion of moving ahead, and added their suggestions. Over the next year, the small committee investigated existing professional Codes of Ethics of related fields (counseling, teaching, social work, etc.) and began to draft a Code of Ethics for discussion.

At the 1992 and 1993 annual meetings, the committee sought additional support, received suggestions and responses to the proposed drafts of an advisors' Code of Ethics, and wrote a survey that was published in a NACADA newsletter a few months later. Ninety three percent of those who responded to the survey supported the proposed Statement of Core Values that came to supplant a Code of Ethics. In October 1994, the NACADA Board adopted this Statement of Core Values (SCV) as the organization's own. The Core Values were written to guide faculty, professional academic advisors, and others performing academic advising functions, without compromising or conflicting with Codes of Ethics for other roles that those individuals also fulfilled.

Nearly a decade later, in early Spring 2003, the NACADA Board revisited the Statement of Core Values. They realized that with pervasive introduction of technology and recent attention to diversity issues in advising practice on our campuses, the SCV would benefit from a thorough review. Maura Ivanick (Syracuse University) accepted the NACADA Board's invitation to head the Task Force. Doris Brightharp-Blount (Mississippi Valley State University), Lynn Freeman (University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh), Rob Mossack (Lipscomb University in Tennessee) ,Donna Drake (Allen County Community College in Kansas), Beth Davis (formerly of St Joseph 's College, West Hartford, CT), and I were invited to be Maura's committee.

In September 2003, the Task Force submitted a historical timeline of past work on the SCV, new findings, recommendations for further changes, and a revised SCV. At the March 2004 Board meeting, Ruth Darling, NACADA president, requested that the recommendations of the Task Force be followed. A small subset of the Task Force began addressing the Board's concerns and continued work on the revision through June 2004. To get as much input as possible on the developing SCV, the committee asked five NACADA members (including two deans, two advisors, and one administrator) at different institutions to review the SCV from their various perspectives. The committee also wrote a new survey for publication in the August 2004 NACADA newsletter, along with a draft of the revision. The survey elicited several helpful responses, including ideas that we incorporated into a new version.

Two months later, the Board reviewed the feedback at a pre-conference meeting, placed the draft on the NACADA business meeting agenda for member discussion, and finally, voted on the Statement of Core Values at a post-conference meeting. In January 2005, the Board published the SCV on NACADA's website and in various professional publications.

So, what's new? Most obvious, the basic structure has changed and been expanded. The new SCV has three parts: an introduction (a one page general statement about the SCV), a brief statement of each of the six Core Values, and, finally, an exposition in which each Core Value appears with a fuller description and examples for application. We offer the brief statement of the Core Values for quick reference and convenience. Maura Ivanick suggests in her accompanying article in this publication how the Core Values might be used. The exposition is helpful when advisors seek a broader understanding and examples for using each Value.

We incorporated the concept of diversity throughout the document. We found that issues of diversity were interlaced through many of the values, but diversity affected each in different ways, thus requiring different ways of handling.

We treated questions of technology similarly. In a given value, technology serves different functions, and, thus, is used in a variety of ways. It seemed best to address each aspect of technology within its context.

Everywhere, we attempted to view the SCV with the eyes of a newcomer to the profession. Where we identified confusing or unclear statements or assumptions, we clarified the language.

With this revised and restructured Statement of Core Values, advisors can find the guidance they seek from NACADA. Relationships between academic advisors and their advisees are dynamic, changing with our culture and our institutions of higher learning. Thus, the Statement of Core Values is also a dynamic document. As such, we hope those who use it continue to review it periodically to keep it relevant for and compatible with current advising professionals. It is your guide to good practice. Adopt it, embrace its principles, and with its guidance, be the best advisor you can be.

Kathie Simon Frank
University of Minnesota, retired

Cite this article using APA style as: Simon Frank, K. (2005, September). The core values: A history and user's guide. Academic Advising Today, 28(3). [insert url here]


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Academic Advising Today, a NACADA member benefit, is published four times annually by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. NACADA holds exclusive copyright for all Academic Advising Today articles and features. For complete copyright and fair use information, including terms for reproducing material and permissions requests, see Publication Guidelines.